UH Libraries News

UH SYRIOS Project Awarded National Endowment for the Humanities Grant

A digital humanities project focusing on ancient Syrian material culture has received a 2020 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant.

The National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.

The National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.

The SYRIOS Project: Studying Urban Relationships and Identity Over Ancient Syria, led by Kristina Neumann, PhD, assistant professor of Roman/digital history, and Peggy Lindner, PhD, assistant professor of computer information systems at University of Houston, was awarded a grant in the amount of $98,095 under the agency’s Digital Projects for the Public program, which supports digital projects (websites, mobile applications, games, and virtual environments) that significantly contribute to the public’s engagement with humanities ideas.

The funds will allow Neumann and Lindner to fully develop a prototype of the interactive online exhibit exploring the history of ancient Syria through coin distribution.

“We are absolutely ecstatic to receive this award,” Neumann said. “Our project seeks to communicate how seemingly lost histories of the ancient past can be recovered through everyday objects and modern technology. Considering the continuing destruction of artifacts and sites within Syria, we also hope to educate a wide audience about the importance of preserving not only the objects themselves, but also the place and context in which they were discovered.”

Read: UH Researchers Release Digital Exploration of Ancient Syria

The UH Libraries Digital Research Commons (DRC) has helped facilitate this project since 2018 through its Sponsored Projects program which offers grants for digital research projects at various stages of development. The DRC cultivates interdisciplinary research and builds communities of practice around digital research methodologies.

“This kind of work is only possible through interdisciplinary, cross-campus collaboration and the integration of students into faculty research,” Neumann added. “We were tremendously supported both financially and intellectually by the DRC from the very beginning of this project.”

“We are delighted that Peggy and Kristina’s work has received the recognition that it very much deserves,” said Claude Willan, director of digital humanities services in UH Libraries Digital Research Services. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to be involved in the development of their work. Theirs is the first of our stable of sponsored projects to secure outside funding so as to be able to grow.”

Taylor Davis-Van Atta, director of the DRC, added, “This marks a significant milestone for any digital project, and for UH Libraries in its effort to strengthen support services for interdisciplinary research across campus. This couldn’t have happened without the collaboration and expertise of our Libraries colleagues in Liaison Services, Special Collections, and Library Technology Services. We are thrilled for Peggy and Kristina, and that our digital projects are advancing. This achievement marks the next step for our growing culture of digital research at UH.”


Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

The SYRIOS Project has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this digital exhibit do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Athena Jackson Named Dean of UH Libraries

Athena N. Jackson

Athena N. Jackson

Athena N. Jackson has been selected for the position of dean of University of Houston Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell chair, effective February 15, 2021.

Jackson joins UH from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where she has served as director for UCLA Library Special Collections since October 2019, providing leadership and strategic vision to shape the future of special collections and archives; and developing initiatives that advance diversity and inclusion as integral to academic excellence through the work of special collections and throughout the Library. At the institutional level, she has served on the Library Management Council and the Strategic Directions Planning Task Force.

“Ms. Jackson brings a wealth of expertise and experience to lead the UH Libraries,” said Paula Myrick Short, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Her passion for the University of Houston and the region will be an advantage for our entire university community.”

Jackson’s previous roles include the Dorothy Foehr Huck chair and head of the Eberly Family Special Collections Library at Penn State; associate director of the University of Michigan Special Collections Library; special collections librarian at the University of Miami; project manager and librarian for the Digitizing Louisiana Newspapers Project at Louisiana State University; and North Carolina Newspaper Digitization Project coordinator and archivist at the North Carolina State Archives. She has broad experience empowering teams and individuals to engage in contemporary access, authentic inclusion, and transformative learning opportunities and has a passion for working with faculty, staff, students, donors, researchers, and communities.

Jackson holds a Master of Science in Library and Information Science from the University of North Texas and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Houston; and is a proud graduate of Wharton County Junior College. She has published and presented on topics related to special collections leadership and management, public engagement and outreach, and diversity and accessibility in archives. She is active in the American Library Association (ALA) Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS).

“As an alumna of UH and native of the Houston region, I have a deep commitment to the advancement and success of the University within this vibrant city,” Jackson said. “I hope to support UH’s institutional achievement through effective, innovative, and inclusive leadership of the Libraries.”

By on January 7th, 2021 in Announcements, Featured

UH Libraries Fall 2020 Newsletter Now Online

The University of Houston Libraries fall 2020 newsletter is now online, celebrating accomplishments of the year and the great work of our students and staff.

University of Houston Libraries Fall 2020 Newsletter

University of Houston Libraries Fall 2020 Newsletter

Call for Applications: Spring 2021 Digital Research Institute

University of Houston Libraries Digital Research Commons (DRC) invites all UH graduate students to submit an application for participation in the Spring 2021 Digital Research Institute, a three-day intensive experience aimed at building the foundational skills and knowledge needed to generate a piece of digital research.

The Institute will take place virtually over three days of Spring Break, March 15-17, 2021. It is aimed at graduate students who are in the beginning phases of digital research that is intended to form the basis for part of an article or a thesis/dissertation. The 4-6 students who are best positioned to benefit from the experience will be offered a seat in the Institute along with a $250.00 scholarship, provided by the UH Graduate School, to be delivered after successful completion of the experience.

Participants will be expected to attend all three days of the Institute plus a one-day “Getting Started” workshop to be scheduled on a Friday approximately two weeks prior to the Institute. Participants will be assigned individualized pre-work and readings that will give them the theoretical and conceptual grounding needed to undertake the work of the Institute and exit the experience with the tangible beginnings of their digital research as well as next steps. Over the Institute, they will attend 3-5 sessions per day delivered by librarians and other digital research practitioners, each targeted at building their technical skills and offering individualized mentorship.

To apply, fill out this form by Friday, January 29, 2021, 11:59PM.

Questions? Contact the staff in the Digital Research Commons: drc@uh.edu

Criteria for acceptance: The application review committee aims to accept 4-6 applicants for participation in the Institute. Applications will be evaluated based on candidates’ clarity of purpose and intent, and how they hope to benefit from the Institute experience. Preference will be given to applicants who clearly illustrate how the Institute will enhance and further their research ambitions while at University of Houston. The review committee will strive to represent a variety of perspectives, disciplines, backgrounds, and levels of experience in its selection process.


Application submission deadline: Friday, January 29, 2021, 11:59PM

Acceptance notifications issued: Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Confirmation of participation: Monday, February 15, 2021

Tentative “Getting Started” workshop: Friday, February 26, 2021, 12:00pm – 3:00pm

Digital Research Institute: March 15-17, 2021

Apply for the Digital Research Institute at UH Libraries

University Archives Seeks COVID-Related Stories from Students

The University Archives at University of Houston Libraries seeks stories from UH students relating to the coronavirus outbreak. Artistic and creative expressions are welcomed alongside more documentary responses.

Students are encouraged to share stories through journals, photographs, and interviews/oral histories, and also through drawings, songs, and monologues. University Archives will preserve responses to this unique and challenging moment in history for people in the future.

For more information, visit UH Students! How has the COVID-19 Pandemic Impacted Your Life?

OER Adoptions on Follett Discover

The deadline for submitting Spring 2021 course material adoptions has been extended to Tuesday, November 17. Instructors who use open educational resources (OER) as course materials can submit their adoptions using Follett Discover. 

Submitting timely adoptions of OER materials lets students know which courses do not have textbook costs, allowing them to make informed course registration decisions, and maintains the university’s compliance with state and federal regulations. 

Submitting OER Adoptions

Access Follett Discover from your AccessUH account. 

  • Option 1 (PREFERRED). Link to or upload your OER material. In Follett Discover, select your course title and go to “Add My Content.” 
  • Option 2. Select “Only OER material is being used for this course,” displayed on your course title card. This option is useful when adopting multiple OER resources that are cumbersome to enter individually. If you are adopting OER and a traditional textbook, do not select this link, as it will prevent the textbook from being added. 

We encourage you to share this information with your colleagues. For further assistance with Follett Discover, refer to Faculty Textbook Adoption

For more information about OER, visit UH Libraries Open Educational Resources

By on November 13th, 2020 in Announcements, Featured

New ‘Among Us’ Sewing Workshop

‘Among Us’ sewing workshop

The University of Houston Libraries Makerspace will host a new sewing workshop online this month. Users will learn basic hand-sewing skills by sewing a simple plushie based on the popular game Among Us. No experience is required and the workshop is free.

This class will be held via Zoom on November 18 from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Registration is required. Materials required to complete this course will be free for curbside pick-up after the user has completed registration for the workshop. 

Upcoming Arduino Workshops

University of Houston Libraries will host a series of Arduino workshops online beginning Thursday, October 29. The Arduino is the most affordable and accessible microcontroller available. It has the ability to accomplish almost all simple electronic projects and is the perfect introduction to programming in C++. These five workshops offer an introduction to Arduino from scratch so you can build your robot, work on your class project, or improve your home – without any programming experience needed.

Arduino workshops

Arduino workshops

Arduino Workshop 1 – October 29, 12 noon – 2 p.m.

Arduino Workshop 2 – November 5, 12 noon – 2 p.m.

Arduino Workshop 3 – November 12, 12 noon – 2 p.m.

Arduino Workshop 4 – November 19, 12 noon – 2 p.m.

Arduino Workshop 5 – December 3, 12 noon – 2 p.m.

New Digital Research Commons Manager

Elizabeth Irvin-Stravoski

Elizabeth Irvin-Stravoski

University of Houston Libraries welcomes Elizabeth Irvin-Stravoski as the first manager of the Digital Research Commons (DRC).

Please describe your role at UH Libraries and talk about some of your professional goals.

I will be administering the Commons and helping the Digital Research Services department build and expand DRC offerings. I will also be assuming the management of the UH Institutional Repository, including processing electronic theses and dissertations.

Please share a bit about your background and interests. How do these inspire and shape your approach in digital research?

I graduated from UH in ’19 (Go Coogs!) with a master’s degree in English literature and a certificate in digital humanities. I hold a standard Texas Teacher’s certificate for ELAR 7-12 and am also a licensed practical nurse. These life experiences, together with a focus on medieval literature during the pursuit of my degree, have fostered a curiosity in the intersection of the medical advances (or lack thereof) of an era, together with the literature it produces. Digital research provides the methods to consider such an intersection in excitingly thorough and unique ways.

Please summarize a few of your current projects.

My primary focus is to transition from public school teaching to managing the DRC, and all that that entails. However, I am very interested in revisiting/revising a project from my graduate student days, in which the literature of the 14th century is analyzed using digital methods—from a medical practitioner’s standpoint—for its relevance and relation to the Black Death.

What is your favorite hobby?

I hope it isn’t too cliché to say that my favorite hobbies would be reading and researching/learning about new and interesting things across a wide spectrum of topics. If I had to pick one topic or genre, I would say I most enjoy reading historical fiction, for the wealth of independent research opportunities it provides. I’m currently reading Maurice Druon’s The Accursed Kings series, about the 14th century French monarchy and lauded by George R.R. Martin as “the original Game of Thrones.”

UH Researchers Release Digital Exploration of Ancient Syria

A digital humanities project featuring a dynamic presentation of ancient Syrian material culture is now available online.

The SYRIOS Project: Studying Urban Relationships and Identity Over Ancient Syria is a digital exhibit focusing on narratives of the Syrian capital city of Antioch-on-the-Orontes. The proof-of-concept release guides users through interactive stories of the region built from coins, texts, and other material culture.

Kristina Neumann, PhD, assistant professor of Roman/digital history, and Peggy Lindner, PhD, assistant professor of computer information systems at University of Houston, are leading a multi-year, interdisciplinary project that began as a study in visualizations from a database of 300,000+ coin finds. The researchers noted the topic drew attention in and outside of academia, and pursued an approach that holds implications for both scholarly and public interest, with the ultimate goal of preserving knowledge of the ancient Middle East through new digital methodologies, and facilitating public engagement with contemporary issues of Syrian identity and heritage.

In its first phase, the SYRIOS exhibit is the culmination of experiments in design, interactivity (such as animated text and parallax scrolling, 3D scans, digital visualizations, and virtual simulations), and usability. “Especially innovative is our sortable digital coin pile and our 3D annotated coin,” Neumann said. “We also go well beyond traditional online archives and catalogs by narrating ancient stories with coins, texts, and other artifacts from Syria.”

Users are able to view new research in the form of thematic narratives based on coin, archaeological, and textual evidence about political, economic, religious, and archaeological histories of Antioch; and explore coin evidence as pieces of art and as objects that move, including a series of Tableau maps presenting archaeological data, an illustrated Omeka catalog of all known types of coins minted at Antioch, and a dataset of coins excavated at Antioch, which users can download to explore their own applications of the material.

Future iterations of the exhibit will feature content and design enhancements, and expansion to include the histories and material culture of other cities within ancient Syria.

This project is made possible by funding from the UH Libraries Sponsored Projects program and by expertise from the Libraries’ Digital Research Services, Liaison Services, Special Collections, and Library Technology Services departments.